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Jan 13

Two brothers

OTs who served in the 1st World War

Francis Alexander Fayers

Born on 13 January 1899 in Oxford, the younger brother of William. In the 1911 Census he is recorded as a boarder at the school, and according to the school records he served in the RASC. The military record at the National Archives records a Francis Alexander Fayers  as serving ultimately in the London Regiment, 10th (County of London) Battalion (Hackney)

In 1924 he married Belinda Webb in Abingdon but they divorced, and in 1931 he married again to Gladys Murray in Oxford. (Belinda never remarried and died in 1943 aged 43 but interestingly she described herself as widowed in the 1939 Census, as divorce still carried much stigma then.)

In 1939, Fayers is recorded as a transport driver and living with Gladys in Higham Ferrers, Northamptonshire.

He died in 1955 in Wellinborough. 

William Selby Fayers

William’s life is shadowy despite the fact that there is a wealth of evidence but it poses more questions than it answers. Why apparently did William move around so much and seemingly live for a long period away from his wife?  The story of his early years is clear enough. William was born on 24thJuly 1892, son of Annie Alice and William Emanuel, an outfitter, and they lived at 12 Queen Street Oxford.  He was baptised as Willie Emanuel on 4thSeptember at St Mark and St John Cowley. He came to LWGS in 1901. On leaving school he became a clothier and in 1911 was one of many apprentice drapers living in lodgings in 1-4 New Bond Street and 2 Northgate Street Bath.  

He enlisted in 1914 and served in the 10thSignal Company of the Royal Engineers as a Sapper. Here the mysteries begin.  No other military records survive and there’s no evidence that he ever served overseas. He married to Annie Laurie Dyer in London in 1915 and a daughter Mary Beryle was born on 3rdMarch 1919 in Solihull. 

In the autumn of 1920 they may have been living in Southwood, Woodbridge Hill, Guildford. For certain, in 1930 their address was the basement of No. 86, Queen’s Gate Kensington.  

Nine years later they had moved to 81b Erpingham Road, near Putney Bridge and their daughter, aged 20, was living with them. By then William had left the clothing trade and had become a printer representative though both Annie and Mary were saleswomen in a drapery. But was he actually there? Most unusually there are two separate listings for William in the 1939 Register. In the first version he is listed as living with Annie and Mary but his name is crossed out and ‘see page 14’ is twice written in red.  On page 14, however, the next page, there is no reference to him.  As one would expect, the houses and the inhabitants of Erpingham Road are listed sequentially. In what appears to be a second enumeration register, perhaps compiled by a different and wayward enumerator, this is not the case. Though nearly all the names and other details are redacted as ‘officially closed’, which normally indicates that they are still living, those few addresses not redacted include Landford Road which adjoins Erpingham Road but also Lower Richmond Road which is about a mile away. William’s details, including his address, appear again,  exactly the same but in this version of the register his family is not shown.  His near neighbour at No 72 was similarly treated so the mystery is not so much about William as to what the register enumerator, or enumerators, were up to.

However, there is a further Fayers mystery concerning his daughter Mary. There are three alterations to her surname: In addition to Fayers they were ‘Harries’ (in blue ink), then Fayers again and finally, in green ink accompanied by some obscure abbreviations and the date 29.9.62, ‘Favret’.  In fact she married Oscar Favret in 1966 under her birth surname. Whether she had married a Harries, and then separated and retook her family name we do not know.

There were more mysteries to come: in 1945 William was living, along with three others with different surnames, in BMA House Tavistock Square. This had been the headquarters of the British Medical Association since 1925 (and in an earlier existence the home of Charles Dickens), and not the kind of place where anyone other perhaps than a caretaker or doctors might be living. How William came to be living there is a mystery as is the absence of Annie. By 1950 he was again one of four seemingly unrelated people living at 27 Stafford Terrace, Kensington. Five years later he had moved once more to 21 St John’s Avenue, Putney and was now back with Annie, and also Mary, still with her Fayers surname. 

He died in London in 1961. And his wife Annie died a year later in 1962, also in London. We have found no record of Mary’s death but it would appear that her husband Oscar remarried in the 1976, and so it is reasonable to assume she died before that date. 

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